Is ULS Technology plc’s (LON:ULS) 37% ROCE Any Good?

Today we’ll evaluate ULS Technology plc (LON:ULS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

Or for ULS Technology:

0.37 = UK£5.0m ÷ (UK£23m – UK£9.1m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, ULS Technology has an ROCE of 37%.

Check out our latest analysis for ULS Technology

Is ULS Technology’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. ULS Technology’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 19% average in the Online Retail industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, ULS Technology’s ROCE is currently very good.

AIM:ULS Past Revenue and Net Income, August 28th 2019
AIM:ULS Past Revenue and Net Income, August 28th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for ULS Technology.

ULS Technology’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

ULS Technology has total assets of UK£23m and current liabilities of UK£9.1m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 40% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts ULS Technology’s ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From ULS Technology’s ROCE

Even so, it has a great ROCE, and could be an attractive prospect for further research. ULS Technology shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.